I tend to look at negative statistics, instead of the positive. I fret over everything that could go wrong, instead of what will probably go right.
Having an outlook of happiness is healthy for you. And in my life (and maybe yours), this negativity has led me to struggle with depression.
But happiness has to more than just being healthy or not depressed. Belle Beth Cooper writes that "happiness alone isn’t enough for us to feel fulfilled. Sadly, chasing happiness is really common these days, and most of us don’t realize why being happy isn’t enough for us to be satisfied with life."
Is Happiness Enough for Positivity?So then, it's not just about thinking about good things, but remembering the good things that make a difference. Therefore, this past month, every evening, I spent time thinking about something positive that happened that day -- either what someone else did to bring me happiness, or what I was able to do to bless someone else. (This was another tip from Ms. Cooper.)
I had already failed miserably at spending 10 mindful minutes every day. I wondered if I would fail at this one. (See that? I was being negative right at the get-go.)
Thankfully, I did accomplish this goal of remembering positive things. Here are a few examples:
- My daughter and I started working through some material on adolescence. I'm glad that God is empowering and equipping us to lead her through this transitional phase.
- So many people in our community worked together to host a neighborhood fish fry. We had a great turnout!
- Chatted with very kind tellers at our local bank.
- On a weekday where we had no football practice (a rarity), I got to play with my kids outside for about an hour, and then played board games with my youngest son later that evening.
- Exchanged emails with some guys in prison, whom I co-labor with in ministry. One of the guys told me that they pray for me regularly.
- I get to participate in "Abba's Kitchen," a ministry by Allendale Baptist Church in which they provide (partnering with other churches) a meal and a devotion for 50-80 college students every Wednesday night.
What did I learn this month?
First, I can find joy in the simplest and most mundane parts of life. Happiness and meaning aren't found only in monumental events. (Watch this 2.5 minute video from Jeff Vanderstelt, Finding Joy in the Everyday.)
Second, every single day, I have the opportunity to be an agent of positive change in my family, job, ministry, and community.
November Small Thing: Write a BookNext month, I am going to write a book. I've thought about doing this for a while, and a few friends have asked me if I would do it.
I have some ideas of things I could write about for a non-fiction book, based on what we've learned about poverty, education, community, etc. over the past few years. This seems logical, especially considering of our upcoming move from Allendale.
But in the spirit of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), I will write a novel. The specific goal will be to write 50,000 words in November.
As a perfectionist (is that connected to my negativity?), the hardest part of this may be the number one rule for writing a rough draft:
"Do not touch the Delete key."
Note: Because of the strain of this goal (I need to average 1667 words per day), I will cut back drastically on the amount of blogging this month. If anything, my blog posts on both of my blogs will consist of links to other articles, guest posts, short questions, photos, etc. Thanks for giving me this leeway.
Edit: Here is a sneak preview of the book.
Do you have any goals for this month? How about your yearly goals (2013 is almost over!) . . . . How are those goals coming along for you?
**photo courtesy of Viewminder via foter.com